4 Ways to Shepherd Your Flock through Textual Variants

"I’ve been preaching and teaching to the same congregation for more than a decade and have had to deal with this issue many times—from the ending of Mark’s Gospel to the ending of the Lord’s Prayer." - TGC

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Bert Perry's picture

...the author's note about teaching the basics of textual criticism.  It reminds me of how Evidence that Demands a Verdict went through the variants, explained how the number of them attests to the significance of the text to the original hearers, and even compared the # of variants to other texts like Homer.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture


The problem is one of those reminders of why an all-church adult Sunday School can be such a powerful thing. It's difficult to sort through textual issues in the middle of a sermon that's focused on an entirely different message. But in a SS setting, you can comfortably work through the subject, what the points of disagreement are, the half dozen passages where differences are most noticeable, etc.

In sermons, my strategy has usually been to focus on what's relevant to the message and if I have to allude to textual variants at all, keep it very brief and move on.

dcbii's picture


The whole textual/version issue is definitely a topic that is worth taking the time to get right.  The previous pastor at my current church handled this as a Wednesday night series that was well attended and appreciated.  The pastor at my previous church before that (who unfortunately went the other direction, changing to KJVO while my family was there), also took a fair number of services (Sunday mornings, IIRC) to deal with the topic and his position on it.

I also listed to a very well done SS series from Dr. Minnick at Mount Calvary Baptist church that took, if I recall, 17 different Sundays to cover this issue, with a couple additional just for questions.

I've also read a fairly large number of books on this topic, as it interests me, but I wouldn't expect that from most in the congregation, so teaching it clearly is worthwhile.

Dave Barnhart